who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
Lessons from Snowden Reporting: LA Times Editors
Advocate Prosecution of Sources
Graeber and the Bureaucratic Utopia of Drone
3. GCHQ continues to use data
techniques outlawed in US,
4. Twilight of the
5. Anticipatory Bribery
is a Nederlog of Monday June 8, 2015
is a crisis blog.
There are 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is
about an article by Glenn Greenwald on some of the lessons he learned
about the - U.S. - media; item 2 is about
bureaucracy and drone warfare (but a bit vague about bureaucracy,
in my opinion); item 3 is about the fact that the
GCHQ still gathers data that the NSA is supposed to have stopped
gathering (but this article believes
that the laws are being kept by the secret NSA, which I don't believe);
item 4 is about the radical decrease of
leftwing professors, but it seems to me to be some
28 years too late, and to be far too kind about "leftwing" professors;
while item 5 is by Robert Reich, and is a good
article about anticipatory bribery in the U.S.A.
1. Media Lessons from Snowden Reporting: LA
Advocate Prosecution of Sources
item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as
It was indeed on June 6,
2015 precisely two years after Glenn Greenwald published his
first piece based on data that Edward Snowden had revealed (without
Snowden's name being in that first piece).
Two years ago, the first
story based on the Snowden archive was published in the
Guardian, revealing a program of domestic mass surveillance which,
at least in its original form, ended this week. To
commemorate that anniversary, Edward Snowden himself
reflected in a New
York Times Op-Ed on the “power of an informed public”
when it comes to the worldwide debate over surveillance and privacy.
But we realized from the
start that the debate provoked by these
disclosures would be at least as much about journalism as privacy
or state secrecy. And that was a debate we not only anticipated but
actively sought, one that would examine the role journalism ought to
play in a democracy and the proper relationship of journalists to
those who wield the greatest political and economic power.
That debate definitely
happened, not just in the U.S. but around the world. And it was
revealing in all sorts of ways. In fact, of all the
revelations over the last two years, one of the most illuminating
and stunning – at least for me – has been the reaction of
many in the American media to Edward Snowden as a source.
What Glenn Greenwald is concerned with in this article is the following:
about what an amazing feat of propaganda that is, one of which most
governments could only dream: let’s try to get journalists
themselves to take the lead in demonizing whistleblowers and arguing
that sources should be imprisoned! As much of an
authoritarian pipe dream as that may seem to be, that is exactly
what happened during the Snowden debate.
Yes, indeed. Here is
journalists were furious about the revelations, and were demanding
prosecution for it, that there should have been a club created
called Journalists Against Transparency or Journalists
for State Secrecy and it would have been highly
populated. They weren’t even embarrassed about it. There was no
pretense, no notion that those who want to be regarded as “journalists”
should at least pretend to favor transparency, disclosures, and
sources. They were unabashed about their mentality that so
identifies with and is subservient to the National Security State that
they view controversies exactly the same way as those officials: someone who reveals information
that the state has deemed should be secret belongs in prison – at least
when those revelations reflect poorly on top U.S. officials.
The very last point - "at least when those revelations
reflect poorly on top U.S. officials" - serves to cover the facts that (i) the same
journalists who wanted to imprison Snowden, and indeed Greenwald, did
get a lot of leaks from government sources, but (ii) indeed many of
those leaks supported the government in various ways (and were
often published by the journalists).
But I agree with Greenwald. Unfortunately, he gives no explanation.
Here is mine, although this probably is not quite adequate and anyway
is sketchy and in the form of a list of points:
I think all of this is
part of the explanation, but as I said: it is sketchy.
- the ordinary
papers lost great amounts of money from advertising with the
arisal of the internet
- many ordinary
papers folded or else got new owners
- the papers with
new owners very often got new editors, whose politics were far
more neoconservative  than the previous editors
- the editors
promoted especially journalists who wrote as the editors thought
Here are two other remarks by Glenn Greenwald, from considerably more
text (and the remarks in the original are not consecutive):
journalists are literally agents of political power.
I agree on the last
remark (and am not an American), though I have to admit that this -
nationalistic - attitude seems to be fairly widely shared by most other
nations ("We and Our Rights come first, and the rest and their rights
don't really matter, to the very fine nationals of Our Fine Nation").
What a bizarre notion
for a journalist to adopt the view that only the rights of Americans
As to the first point: Yes and no. That is, they often behave
as if they are agents of political power, or at least as if they are eager
servants of political power, but - it seems to me - they usually do
not see themselves in those terms.
Here is Glenn Greenwald's conclusion:
whistleblowing has led to many extraordinary revelations. None is
more significant or more revealing than what it highlighted about the
function many American journalists actually perform, and how far
away that is – universes away – from the way they market their
I would not have put it
in these terms, mostly because I think the many revelations about the
NSA and the corruptions of the American government
are more important than other revelations, e.g. about the eager
journalistic servants of the American government. Then again, I am not
a journalist 
and not an American.
2. David Graeber and the Bureaucratic Utopia of Drone Warfare
item is an article by Cora Currier on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
In fact, this is a
review of a recent book by David Graeber "The
Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of
Bureaucracy". I do
It takes a lot of
bureaucracy to kill with a drone.
potential targets must pass through layers of offices at the
Pentagon or CIA before ultimately making their way to the
president. A target must meet a set of criteria, outlined by White
House lawyers in classified memos, that rely on opaque and
uncommon definitions of words like “imminent,” “continuing” and
“threat.” Permission to take the actual shot then proceeds through
a military chain of command that involves remote operators manning the
controls and officials of various stripes watching via video feed.
the book and I also did not get a very clear view of it from this
So I will only quote the last paragraph:
systems aspire to be regarded as “neutral social technologies,” Graeber
notes, just a means to an end. But he doesn’t believe bureaucracy is
actually neutral: he thinks it stymies creativity and, under the cover
of neutrality, preserves the advantages of the powerful by dominating
the weak. He’s onto something. As we have seen with drone strikes,
spying by the National Security Agency, and detainee torture by the
CIA, laws and rules are not always obeyed, and they can be designed or
twisted to authorize horrendous things.
I'd say: Of course
bureaucracy is almost never neutral, for bureaucrats are the
quite well rewarded servants of politicians and the state, and each and
all of these have their own political and moral interests.
But I've known this for more than 45 years and indeed I also have met
many bureaucrats of which only a handful was decent and more or less
objective, while the rest - the very great majority - all reinterpreted
the laws to justify their not helping me while I was illegally
gassed - quite literally so - and kept from sleeping for
nearly 4 years (that ruined my health ever since, that is: now for
the 25th year) by illegal drugsdealers who were "permitted to
deal" by "personal preference" of the Amsterdam mayor. 
For more (from my own point of view) see the items Bureaucracy
Plan in my Philosophical
continues to use data
techniques outlawed in US, say campaigners The next
item is an article by Owen Bowcott on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
In case you didn't know:
That covers me, and indeed also nearly everybody else
whose data are, nevertheless, gathered with abandon by the secret
assistants of the new British authoritarian state.
Cheltenham-based monitoring agency, is collecting “bulk personal
datasets” from millions of people’s phone and internet records using
techniques now banned in the US, according to Privacy International.
In a fresh legal claim
filed at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the campaign group
calls for an end to the harvesting of information about those who have
no ties to terrorism and are not suspected of any crime.
There is also this:
The passing of the
USA Freedom Act last week curtailed so-called “section 215” bulk
collection of phone record metadata – information about who called
whom, and timings, but not the content of conversations. It was a
victory for the libertarian cause and a restriction of state
I am quite willing to
believe this, but then I also do not believe that the "Freedom
Act" has factually restricted the collection of materials of the NSA
By contrast, UK privacy
campaigners say, parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC)
has confirmed that GCHQ is still collecting datasets relating to “a
wide range of individuals, the majority of whom are unlikely to be of
(and indeed this was restarted on June 2 "for half a year").
And while the article says:
of data about millions of people who have no ties to terrorism, nor are
suspected of any crime, is plainly wrong. That our government admits
most of those in the databases are unlikely to be of intelligence
value… shows just how off-course we really are.”
I say that "bulk collection of data about millions of
people who have no ties to terrorism, nor are suspected of any crime"
was from the beginning - in 2001 - the main end of the spying
agencies, for they know that knowing all they can control everyone.
For more, see NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future
Twilight of the Professors
item is an article by Michael Schwalbe, who is a professor of sociology:
This starts as follows, with a
subject that is or at least was close to my heart:
To start with, I never heard
of Jacoby or his book before today. Since "twenty-
Twenty-eight years ago
Russell Jacoby argued in The
Last Intellectuals that
the post-WWII expansion of higher education in the U.S. absorbed a
generation of radicals who opted to become professors rather than
freelance intellectual troublemakers. The constraints and rewards of
academic life, according to Jacoby, effectively depoliticized many
professors of leftist inclinations. Instead of writing in the common
tongue for the educated public, they were carrot and sticked into
writing in jargon for tiny academic audiences. As a result, their
political force was largely spent in the pursuit of academic careers.
Jacoby acknowledges that
universities gave refuge to dissident thinkers who had few other ways
to make a decent living. He also grants that careerism did not make it
impossible to publish radical work or to teach students to think
critically about capitalist society. The problem is that the demands of
academic careers made it harder to reach the heights achieved by public
intellectuals of the previous generation. We thus ended up with, to
paraphrase Jacoby, a thousand leftist sociologists but no C. Wright
eight years ago" it was 1987, when I was one of the very few
who agitated about the radical declines in education, and had
been doing so for ten years then (for my first piece against it
was published in 1977), I would have been strongly inclined to
read it, simply because almost all professors I knew of, in my
own University of Amsterdam, in Holland, and outside Holland, kept
completely silent, while also making rather a lot of money for
themselves, while generally having - in so far as I could see them,
which was a lot in the University of Amsterdam - extremely easy lives. 
In fact, the first book I know of that was roughly on the lines
I was thinking of myself was Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the
American Mind - How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and
Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students", that in fact was first published in 1987,
but that I only found - it was before the days of the internet
- in 1989. (I did review it in 1989: See "Truth and value".)
Then there is this:
There is a lot more, but none
of it is very good, and all of it reminds me very much of the many
vaguely "leftist", vaguely "marxist", vaguely "ethically motivated"
professors I spoke to in the University of Amsterdam, all of
Since Jacoby’s book was
published, things have gotten worse. There are still plenty of
left-leaning professors in U.S. colleges and universities. But as an
employment sector, higher education has changed. There are now powerful
conservatizing trends afoot that will likely lead to the extinction of
professors as a left force in U.S. society within a few decades.
One major change is that the
expanding academic job market that Jacoby observed is now shrinking.
When the market for professors was growing, as it was in the 1960s and
1970s, radicals could get jobs in universities, earn tenure, and do
critical intellectual work, even if it was often muted by a desire for
conventional academic rewards.
decided not to help me, and not to speak out against
the radical declines of education they saw as well as I did, while continueing
to make their own private careers, which I grant were very well
jobs with very
few demands. (Every Dutch academic is a bureaucratic servant of the
state or a city.)
Besides, in Holland the hiring of "leftists" (between quotation marks
academic "leftists" generally were first and foremost academic careerists)
mostly happened between 1965 and 1975: After that, there was
done a lot less hiring, especially because those hired in these
10 years were mostly in their middle or late twenties and had
gotten bureaucratic tenure almost immediately, which also made it very
difficult to fire them.
Anyway - here is my sum-up of the many "leftist" academics I have
They were nearly all liars, who pretended to be leftists
because that was the fashion in
the Dutch universities from 1971-1995, that during all these years were
formally in the hands of the students, but who nearly all were
almost only interested in furthering their own careers, while
almost none of them had the courage to oppose the government of the
I do not think I ever met any professor or any lecturer who was
a credible leftist like my Marxist father was: Everyone
I met who was a professor or a lecturer was far more interested
in himself or herself, in his or her income, and in his or her social
status than in the leftist social plans they occasionally supported. 
In fact Julien
Benda was right, in my experience, and he wrote "The Betrayal of
the Intellectuals" in 1927.
item for today is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
Washington has been
rocked by the
scandal of J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in
history of the U.S. House, indicted on charges of violating banking
laws by paying $1.7 million (as part of a $3.5 million agreement) to
conceal prior misconduct, which turns out to have been child
That scandal contains
another one that’s received less attention: Hastert, who
never made much money as a teacher or a congressman, could manage such
payments because after retiring from Congress he became a high-paid
This second scandal is
perfectly legal but it’s a
In the 1970s, only 3
retiring members of Congress went on to become Washington lobbyists.
of all retiring senators and 42
percent of retiring representatives become
This isn’t because more
have had fewer qualms. It’s because the financial rewards from
mushroomed, as big corporations and giant Wall Street banks have sunk
into rigging the game to their advantage.
Yes, indeed. The rest of
the article explains this further and is well worth reading.
P.S. Jun 9,2015: Corrected a typo.
really think "neoconservative" is a lot better than "neoliberal", and
do so basically for three reasons: The main relation so-called
"neoliberals" have to liberalism is
by way of "libertarianism", which again is a false name for neo-
conservatives. Second, while I have been a leftist and a liberal for 45
I have never been a conservative or a neoconservative. Third,
"neoliberals" are in fact pushing a conservative
agenda: less taxes for the rich, less regulations for the rich, higher
incomes for the rich.
 No, I really am not, even though much
of what I wrote in Nederlog may be fairly called "journalistic". But I
am not paid; I never regarded myself as a journalist;
and my site exists originally to defend myself against the
onslaught of - especially - the Amsterdam bureaucracy and politicians
on my human and civil rights, and to publish some decent philosophy
outside the - rarely read - academic philosophical journals.
I have done three studies in the University of Amsterdam (while ill all
the time - and had I not been ill, I would have left the UvA in 1980 at
Philosophy, from which I was illegally removed briefly before
taking my - excellent - M.A. (and I could get no lawyer because those
whom I asked said "it is too political"); psychology, in which I got an
M.A. with only A's; and Norwegian, that I stopped within a year because
the University of Amsterdam gave Norwegian, but did not even
have someone who spoke Norwegian: All spoke Danish, which is
rather like teaching Dutch as if it is German, by people who speak only
All in all, between 1969 and 2005 I learned to know precisely three
professors in the University of Amsterdam that I thought were both
intelligent and worked well, and one was a pure mathematician who was
early pensioned; one an Englishman who was dismissed; and one a Dutch
mathematical statistician who gave up on Dutch "education" and
emigrated with his family to the U.S.A.
Nearly all of the rest were unintelligent frauds, whom I mostly
despised not because they were not really intelligent (really
intelligent Dutchmen tend to move pretty fast to another less
provincial country) but because they were very cowardly while
pretending to be fine leftists, which they did pretend because it was fashionable much
rather than that they believed in it.
The three professors I mentioned in the previous note (of whom I did
see a fair amount in two cases) also were not leftists, and indeed were
all more interested - like I was - in science than in politics.
I also did not mind, if only because I had learned that the professors
who were much in favor of leftism all
were intellectually incompetent or dishonest.
 Marijuana and hashish are as illegal
in Holland as in the rest of Europe but starting in 1987 the Dutch
mayor Van Thijn, later followed by other mayors, started to give
"personal permissions" to drugsdealing friends of his in which they
could deal in marijuana and hashish from coffeeshops. This resulted in
dealt in Holland around 20 billion dollars each year in
soft drugs alone, and a manifold of that in hard
drugs, and has been going on steadily ever since 1987, with the
tacit consent also of all Dutch judges and all Dutch
What wonder that I think Holland is grossly incorrupt on all levels,
and has been functioning as the Colombia of Europe since 1987?
And incidentally: The Dutch might have easily legalized drugs since a long time (as did the Portugese, and as I have been a proponent of
ever since 1969, indeed like many Dutchmen). They didn't, I am
convinced, because this would have cost them a lot of money.
(But I do not know anything about the percentages the Dutch mayors
receive, nor how they receive them.)